Movie Review: Watchmen
Last year I read The Watchmen graphic novel in anticipation of the film. I had had a comic geek phase buried well back in my junior high years and was at least dimly aware of the storyline before picking up the book. I found myself pulled in by the ultra-grim, dystopian take on the late twentieth century; one inhabited by troubled costumed avengers and a world on the brink of nuclear annihilation.
For the most part the film holds true to the source material, but is somehow lacking. Whereas the novel allows for the fleshing out of the characters’ backstories such topics are only glanced upon in the film, summed up in short, uninviting flashbacks, which might not be an entirely bad thing as the film feels like every minute of its near three hour length. But without the backstories being given greater attention the surface level knowledge the viewer has of the characters is never enough to emotionally invest in their fates.
Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup) is an apathetic god displaced in the timeline of his own life. The Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) has come to see all of life as a joke. But there’s no reason to agree or disagree, side with or against anyone in the whole film. The take-no-prisoners anti-hero, Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley), the skintight costumes of Malin Akerman and Carla Gugino, and a soundtrack that manages to include Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and “99 Luftballons” are the most enticing parts of the movie.
I counted six people that walked out on the less than sold out showing I saw on opening day. I wouldn’t call the movie bad by any means, but it left me cold. Perhaps had it come with less fanfare or if the heroes in the movie were ones I shared any connection with in any way I might have had a more enthusiastic response to it.
As it is The Watchmen figures to be movie long debated by the fanboys and quickly forgotten by the masses.